Sensory calming techniques are strategies that help children calm when they are starting to get overwhelmed or have sensory overload. For sensory calming techniques there is no “one size fits all”. It is important to start slow and see what your child responds positively to. We can learn a lot just through observation! You may find that your child does best with a combination of calming techniques.
Work on developing these techniques ahead of time. In the middle of a meltdown is NOT a good time to experiment with new calming techniques. We don’t want to risk overstimulating a child when they are distressed or accidentally turn a “small” meltdown into a “mega” meltdown. Experiment with these strategies when children are calm and ready to play.
Movement Based Activities
Movement can help a child get out any excess energy and meet sensory needs. Some children will start to calm by simply being given the opportunity to move their bodies. Here are some ideas:
Mouth Based Activities
We receive numerous sensory inputs in the mouth including taste, texture, temperature, and shape. As a result, some children calm with having extra input in their mouths. Try some of the following:
Bright and fluorescent lights can be overstimulating for some children and provide too much visual stimulation. Try some of the following:
Noise/Music Based Activities
Noise and music can be very calming for some people but can be startling and alerting for others. Experiment when your child is calm and see how they respond to various types of noise and music. For the child that gets easily overstimulated by sounds or noise, they may benefit from wearing noise-cancelling headphones or earplugs in loud or crowded public places.
Have fun experimenting and let me know how it goes firstname.lastname@example.org! I would love to hear any strategies you find that work well for your child.
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Michael Jankowski, MS, OTR/L
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